SpaceX’s biggest bangs: a brief history of Elon Musk’s exploding rockets

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Elon Musk’s private aerospace company SpaceX lost another rocket prototype on Tuesday as it crash landed in heavy Texas fog.

The company has launched more than 100 rockets over the past decade in their effort to bring tourists to the Moon and Mars — but a number of the unmanned prototypes have gone up in flames. As Musk has said, that’s what testing is for.

Here’s a look back at some of SpaceX’s most fiery failures.

Falcon 9 explodes over Texas, Aug. 2014

SpaceX conducted a test flight of a three engine version of its FN9 test vehicle, the company said.

An anomaly was detected during the flight, and the prototype’s termination system aborted the mission.

Falcon 9 crash lands in ocean, April 2015

An attempt at a precision landing on an ocean spaceport drone ship titled “Just Read the Instructions,” ended badly when the rocket’s velocity caused it to tip over.

“Odds of rocket landing successfully today are still less than 50%,” Musk tweeted.

Falcon 9 explodes over Cape Canaveral, June 2015

A rocket carrying carrying supplies and the first-of-its-kind docking port to the International Space Station broke up less than three minutes after liftoff.

The rocket was traveling at 2,900 mph, 27 miles over Cape Canaveral when it exploded.

Falcon 9 launchpad explosion, Sept. 2016

This $62 million prototype blew up on its launchpad in Cape Canaveral during a test for a planned launch.

No one was injured at the Kennedy Space Center but the blast destroyed a $200 million satellite that Facebook had planned to use.

Falcon Heavy core booster misses platform, June 2019

The two side boosters of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket landed safely at Cape Canaveral, but the core booster erupted in a fireball in the ocean after missing a floating platform.

Musk said it was the “most difficult” mission in company history to date.

Starship X blows up during testing, Nov. 2019

A Starship X cryogenic pressure test blew up the rocket prototype in Texas, sending a huge cloud of vapor pouring out of the rocket.

The company envisions versions of the Starship being sent to Mars, if it can get off the ground first.

Starship X blows up during testing… again, March 2020

Another Starship X prototype barely got off the ground, as its top half went flying into the air during a Texas test.

“So … how was your night?,” Musk tweeted. “It’s fine, we’ll just buff it out,” he added

Starship SN9 belly flops in high altitude, Feb. 2021

A prototype went up in flames ten kilometers above Texas after an otherwise successful test.

”We had again another great flight,” a SpaceX announcer said during the online broadcast. “We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit.”

Starship SN10 successfully lands, then blows up, March, 2021

This prototype made it ten kilometers into the air and landed safely. That’s when things started going south.

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